Bloomberg reported Friday that Best Buy has made permanent the price-matching policy it tried out during the Holiday buying frenzy, in an attempt to combat showrooming — the practice of using brick-and-mortar stores to check out a product in person before buying it online at a cheaper price.
Of course, the Best Buy giveth, and the Best Buy taketh away, so the story also reports that the stores are cutting its return period for products from 30 days down to 15 (although you still won’t have to worry about restocking fees).
It’s a bold move, and one already put into somewhat more limited effect by Target.
We won’t find out until February 28 whether the policy — combined with Holiday sales — hurt Best Buy’s fourth quarter profits, but at any rate, the announcement has improved the company’s stock.
I can’t help but wonder, though, whether this will really bring the sales back into the store for the other eleven months of the year. The Holiday shopping frenzy is an unusual case, and oftentimes people make more rash purchases, not to mention purchases they definitely need on a definite date. So in-store shopping makes a good bid of sense, especially for procrastinators.
But the one thing this story fails to mention — and Best Buy’s price-matching policy fails to account for — is taxation. I know this is a touchy subject, more so in some states than others, but just speaking for myself, even if Best Buy matches the sticker price of an item I’ve found on Amazon, they still have to tack an additional 10% on the end of the receipt here in the People’s Republic of Alabama. Not such a big deal for a Blu-ray disc or printer cartridge, but get up into the bigger ticket items, and that tax might still scare some shoppers away.
Of course, that merely gives more fuel to the fiery argument that Amazon ought to be collecting sales tax in every state, but that’s another story for another day.